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Net Push: The State of al-Qaeda at Ten Years Old

While Admiral Hayden warns us that al-Qaeda is training Europeans and Americans for Western infiltration and attacks, it is also true that al-Qaeda is waning on its 10th birthday. Friend of ThreatsWatch Olivier Guitta writes in the Middle East Times that "it is al-Qaida's failure in Iraq that has clearly inflicted the maximum damage to Bin Laden's organization."

Olivier looks at the competing camps of thought; one professing that al-Qaeda is weaker and the other that al-Qaeda is even stronger. The latter is believed by many who hold the view because America has made al-Qaeda stronger through wrong-headed policy.

The fact remains that Guitta is correct in assessing that "al-Qaeda is waning" and equally correct in pointing to al-Qaeda's bleeding in Iraq as one of the primary causes.

But at the same time, al-Qaeda is also stronger in ways. Take for instance its complete recovery to pre-9/11 levels inside Pakistan.

The lesson that should be drawn is that al-Qaeda, born the World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders in 1998, struggles and is defeated where it is confronted aggressively. It thrives where it finds haven and freedom of movement and activity.

I would assess the status of al-Qaeda at a net push at this point in a complex and varied set of battlefields - physical and intellectual; The War of Arms and the War of Ideas.

The key to its long-term viability hinges on both aggressive pursuit as well as its credibility and level of acceptance among the greater Muslim ummah. The former condition is inconsistently applied (nor an easy feat, especially with tepid world support for boldness.) The latter condition is in the air, with signs of both acceptance and rejection and neither taking a decisive foothold. Yet.